Two Trinity graduates’ tenacity guided high school successes
STAMFORD — Domenica Lopez has never let her humble origin deter her.
Her family left Ecuador and moved to the United States when she was 3 years old. As is the case with many immigrant families, the transition was difficult for all.
“I was aware that I was more economically disadvantaged than the rest of my classmates, but my dad worked, my mom worked and they supported me and my brother,” Lopez said. “So I knew that I had to take advantage of our situation.”
The Trinity Catholic High School senior decided at a young age that she would work her way up so that one day, she can help others be just as successful. On Saturday, Lopez checked a major box in her pursuit of the American Dream: she was one of 121 classmates to graduate.
Lopez, who hopes to become a senator one day, urged Stamford students, especially the city’s large immigrant population, to persevere despite the obstacles they will likely face.
“It doesn’t matter what situation you’re in, you still have to strive to do your best,” Lopez said in a recent interview.
“You’ll probably be knocked down multiple times... you’ll perhaps be looked down upon — challenges will come your way,” she said. “But in the end you have as much chance as anybody to do what you want to do. If you put your mind to it, you can succeed and you will succeed.”
Her fellow classmate and longtime friend Ryan Sweeney had other kinds of obstacles to overcome. He struggled with dyslexia as a child, as well as later in school while taking standardized tests, but it did not stop him.
“It’s not something that I ever let hinder me,” said Sweeney, a Trinity student ambassador who also received his diploma on Saturday. “It was always something that made it a little more difficult, but it (just made me) work a little bit harder.”
Sweeney, who played football for the Crusaders, will attend Clemson University in South Carolina, where he plans to double major in business management and sports communication. But he also wants to become a pilot and is already working on his license.
He and Lopez worked together on several musical productions at Trinity — Lopez as an actress and Sweeney on technical and crew roles.
Lopez, a fellow ambassador, was also involved with the multicultural club and the soccer team, among other pursuits.
“I just wanted to experience everything in high school, to be honest,” she said.
Lopez said she was able to attend Trinity, a private school on Newfield Avenue, thanks to financial aid and scholarships.
She is enrolled at the University of Connecticut this fall. Though she hasn’t declared a major, her interests in political science and law will guide her choice.
One of the reasons she wants to be in government is a perceived lack of engagement among young people and other demographics around the country. Lopez said last year’s presidential election proves the point because neither major candidate had widespread support.
“We needed more [candidates] who could appeal to the American audience as a whole, not just immigrants, not just the working class... but someone who can appeal to the entire American public and I feel like we didn’t have that,” she said. “So I’m hoping to be someone in the government that can change that.”
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